Thermae Romae is an anime about a roman architect who fallas through a large hole in the bathroom floor, which appears to be some sort of time travelling wormhole, and it takes him to modern day Japan where he proceeds to have the most ridiculous conversations and be astonished by everything around him. All in all it looks ridiculous and to be honest, it is. However, ridiculous isn’t always bad and I think Thermae Romae is evidence of that.
There are a couple things that make Thermae Romae distinct and consequently, determine whether you will like it or completely hate it. The first, is the animation. Its got really crude animation being composed of smooth line backgrounds and hard edge stills. These stills are then the people who barely move apart from their mouths to talk and their eyes to blink. They do also change facial features and to be fair it doesn’t seem too still but at times its just random. At one point there was a guy with a paper bag in the Roman bath, some old guy in the Japanese bath sucking on his own teeth and various other things which just looked silly or ugly. That said, the drawings are meant to be more “realistic” as opposed to anime/cartoon styled. This means that the Japanese people look Japanese-ish and the Roman person actually looks Roman. The art looks really simple and whether this is down to the fact that the production values are low or this is the desired animation style the author wanted, I’m not so sure. I haven’t read the manga so I cannot comment on its format though I suspect it is very similar hence, the way it is animated is probably the wish of the author. This way it keeps that comic style of portrayal which is required to make something like this work. If I’m being honest, if the whole thing was animated as per usual, I don’t think it would have the desired effect so in this sense, I guess the author made a right move. That said, I’m still unsure as to whether I like this style. I wasn’t very convinced at the beginning however, as I watched, it kind of grew on me. The only gripe I guess is its annoying seeing some of the people who look ugly or just that the facial expressions are blatantly recycled.
The thing that will draw people to Thermae Romae though, is undoubtedly the comedy that the show is supposed to have. I do not know if it will be for everyone however I found myself laughing a few times and thinking how ridiculous this show is. But it was more of a surprise at how, not-bad, it was. If anything, it was alright. The comedy is composed of Lucius interacting with modern Japanese people. He thinks they have flat faces and comments on their facial features. Luckily, the author also noted that they weren’t speaking the same language so didn’t understand each other – which I was predicting would have been a big faux pas. He also goes around being amazed by fruit milk (milkshake?) and wonders in amazement at the fan and the bottle opener’s complex, advanced technology… It sounds stupid when read aloud but the voice acting is pretty good and the character images actually bring it to life – so that you do actually get a few laughs. The facial expressions, the over-done voicing and all the surprises from Lucius really make the anime funny. After all, it must have been funny enough to warrant an anime from the manga alone. Lucius then takes the various Japanese bath attributes back to Rome and he gains the largest and most popular bath by painting the wall, general Japanese bath etiquette and the fruit milk. One thing I didn’t understand though was, how did he know how to make the fruit milk? Well, its not like the anime makes any sense anyway…
So overall, Thermae Romae isn’t what I expected at all. However, whilst it does have its upsides, I wouldn’t say these are particularly substantial upsides. The humour was good but it wasn’t anywhere comparable to other famous anime comedy.It is only 15 minutes (only about 11 minutes actual screen time) though so I am not expecting it have as many laughs. I guess its a bit of a fun watch but I doubt it will be a major hit for this season. The animation is horrible at parts but bearable at others and the humour is sparse but its not bad. Though I can see this anime getting hugely polarised reviews, Thermae Romae gets a 6.5/10 from me for just being original and somewhat funny. Probably keep on the back burner just because it is short.
|Likelihood I’ll be watching: Decent||Likelihood I’ll be blogging: Decent|